Building Biodiversity and Ecological Resilience in Prairies
Chris Helzer is The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science in Nebraska and his talk is titled "Building Biodiversity and Ecological Resilience in Prairies".
Prairies are beautiful, complex, and resilient. That resilience will serve them well as the climate continues to change and the species in prairies adapt to those dynamic conditions. Prairie resilience is governed by both the size of habitats and the diversity of species that live within them. Habitat size depends upon saving the prairies we have left, but also upon restoration efforts that can help stitch grassland landscapes back together in strategic ways. Species diversity relies on thoughtful management that provides a ‘shifting mosaic’ of habitat patches that includes a wide range of vegetation structure, from short and sparse to tall and dense. Prairies have relied upon humans and their land management for thousands of years and their future hinges on our commitment and ability to fulfill that continued responsibility.
As The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science in Nebraska, Chris' main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and share those lessons with other land managers. Chris is the author of two books published by the University of Iowa Press — “The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States” and “Hidden Prairie: Photographing Life in One Square Meter" — and blogs at “The Prairie Ecologist” where he works to raise awareness about the value of prairies and prairie conservation.